Get the Dirt about Oceans Churning from winemaker Raj Iyer

22 May

OceansChurningPeople1. What was your first vintage year? 2014

2. How many cases do you make per vintage? 200-300

3. Do you have a Tasting Room? I don’t have a tasting room, but can arrange private tours of our cave and vineyard. Please email me for details.

4. What wine made you want to become a winemaker/start your own winery? Chablis Grand Cru (Valmur) and Montrachet.

5. What varietals do you work with? Why? Chardonnay and (coming soon) Pinot Noir. When grown in cool, fog-blessed California micro-climates and conscientiously made to preserve their old world character, these noble varietals create elegant, food-centric wines with restrained opulence, structure and cellaring potential.

OceansCVineyard6. What vineyards do you source from? Sonoma Coast and Los Carneros. Vineyards here benefit from a magical combination of cold, Pacific Ocean supplied night fog, sunny yet breezy days and shallow soils rich in marine sediment. The cool and long growing seasons deliver classic wines with floral aromas, elegantly balanced acid and fruit profiles, finishing long with nuance layers of spice and earth notes.

7. What type of oak treatment do you use? Neutral, 7-10 year old French Oak barrels. I place the highest emphasis on handcrafting elegant, single-vineyard wines. Extended aging in neutral, French oak allows true and full expression of varietal and terroir, allowing me to authentically narrate the vineyard’s story in the glass.

OceansCoastline8. What do you love about your winemaking region? What makes it different special? The hills and valleys of the Sonoma Coast are perfect for Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Viognier. Anchored by shallow soils rich in marine sediment, these appellations enjoy prolonged exposure to Pacific Ocean fog at night, and sunny yet breezy days in the growing season. When made artisanally, the resulting wines are aromatic, elegant, food-centric and cellar worthy.

9. What’s the story behind your winery name / label? Oceans Churning and my label is inspired by an ancient epic: together, the gods and demons churned the cosmic ocean for the elixir of immortality. First arose poisons; then emerged the Goddess Uma with the nectar of wisdom.

OceansChurningBottles10. What’s the one thing you wish someone had told you about the wine business before you started your own winery? I did not fully realize how hard it would be to build awareness and find the right audience and channel partners for this style of wine. Four years later, it is certainly a work in progress — but the joy and fulfillment experienced in all aspects of winemaking and sharing my wines with a small (but growing) group of supporters far outweighs the trials and tribulations.

11. Most importantly, what’s so great about being small? What can you do as a small winemaker, that wouldn’t be possible for larger wineries? My biggest sources of satisfaction are (1) the ability to stay authentically focused on my winemaking style, (2) building enduring, trusted relationships with equally passionate winegrowers and (3) sharing my artisanal production with friends, club members and supporters in the trade.

12. How do you view the future in the wine industry for small-lot winemakers? Industry consolidation, generational shifts in taste and commoditization of wine are major head winds. Yet, I remain confident that artisanal winemakers will retain a nice market through a relentless focus on authenticity, quality, value – ultimately building deeper and sustainable relationships with their supporters.

13. If you could choose another wine region to work in what would it be? As Burgundy is absolutely out of reach, I would choose the Northern Rhone or Loire.

For more information about Oceans Churning Wines, please visit their website.

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